"Let everything happen to you, beauty and terror. Just keep going, no feeling is final ''. This is one of my favorite quotes by Rainer Maria Rilke. For me, it is a reminder that so much of life is about allowing change. It can be a beautiful thing when we experience change in our lives and allow for new chapters to unfold, although at the same time, it can also feel very unnerving. That being said, the beauty and feeling good part of change is easy , it's the terror and actual moments of it that can feel really stressful and even traumatic, however, these are often the moments where we do our most profound growth. I personally believe in change. I have gone through many moments of profound change in my life. I'm not talking about running away from problems or situations such as one's job, relationship or home because you can't commit to something or someone. The changes I am referring to are the shifts that are hard but necessary in order to move forward in life as well as changes that perhaps are somewhat out of our control. This past year has been a time of enormous change. Loved ones have passed away, people have lost their jobs or have had to pivot into new careers , they have found love and perhaps lost it, relationships have come to an end or perhaps you have had to uproot your home and move to someplace completely new. No matter which may apply to you, almost no one has come out of this past year unscathed or unchanged. What I would like to talk about in this blog post are some of my tips for profound self-care during times of change and uncertainty. I would also like to acknowledge that I understand that during difficult times the last thing we may feel inspired to do is self-care, but it is in these moments that it is the most necessary. So let's dive in.
This first recommendation is perhaps biased for women, as I am speaking from my own personal experience, however it has been one of the most supportive and healing protocols for me during times of transition. Surround yourself with sisterhood. Being with, talking to and allowing other women to hold space for you is when some of the most profound healing can happen. Women have the incredible capacity to hold space for one another's grief. It can be one of the most healing spaces to immerse oneself in during difficult shifts in one's life and can also be one of the most joyful and supportive environments during celebratory, happy times. Speaking from my own experience, it can be hard to reach for help or say you need extra support. It's so easy to convince ourselves we can get through things on our own, because of course you could, or that we don't want to bother our friends and family with our own problems. Unfortunately, when we do this, what can happen is that we emotionally harden out of self-preservation and this can cause us to start putting up walls. Overtime, we have so much pent up pain, sadness or insecurity that we can't open up to anyone for fear of being vulnerable or actually feeling our feelings.
This brings me to my next protocol, Cry ! Cry a lot if you need to. Crying is a fascinating phenomenon. Crying for long periods of time can actually release oxytocin and endorphins that can ease physical and emotional pain . Some evidence has shown that tears associated with emotional stress can have higher levels of certain proteins, manganese, potassium and hormones. Crying can be incredibly therapeutic if we allow it. So when you hear "cry it out" that's literally what you are doing!
My next self-care tip can be applied any time in your life that you may need to de-stress, feel grounded and get some perspective. Get into nature! I know this one can be particularly hard for you city dwellers but it is so vital for our emotional and psychological well-being. Nature has the incredible capacity to lower blood pressure and hypertension, release stress and put our lives into perspective . If you live near an ocean or a body of water, go to it! If you live in a city, take advantage of the city parks and botanical gardens. An interesting phenomenon happens when we look at something awe-inspiring in nature such as the night sky full of stars, the endless ocean or a towering waterfall. Experiencing awe can actually make us more attune to things larger than ourselves and our problems. It brings us out of ourselves and our own problems which can be extremely healing during difficult or transitional times in our lives. So however you can access nature, do it.
These next two self-care tips I am going to talk about together because they both help release stored emotions in the body. Exercise and get body work: massage, acupuncture, reflexology, reiki, whatever calls to you. When we are in distress we feel emotions throughout our body. We are often socialized to suppress our feelings, swallow our words, hold back our anger or grief and not prioritize pleasure. Think about it. When we are scared or nervous we feel 'butterflies' in our stomach or perhaps when we feel like we can't express ourselves our throat may feel tight or our neck and shoulders tense up. Why do you think it's called being heart-broken when you lose or separate from someone you love? We literally feel pain in our chest. Our hips and lower back also hold an enormous amount of stress. We literally feel emotions in our bodies. When we don't actively work to release these emotions they stay in us and fester. There is a growing body of evidence that links chronic pain and inflammatory illnesses to stress and unresolved emotional pain. Movement and exercise is a wonderfully healing way to move energy through the body. Having body work also is an extremely powerful way to release emotions stored in the body. I don't know if anyone else has ever experienced this but I have been in acupuncture sessions where I just start sobbing seemingly out of nowhere, as though some emotional blockage had been released. I have been in yoga classes where the same thing happens, as though all of a sudden I let go of something or can process a feeling through my physical body. This can be extremely powerful and healing as emotions need to leave the body somehow.
The last thing I will say is particularly specific for changes that we brought on ourselves such as a career change that we chose, an end to a relationship that we initiated, or a move. I'm talking about a transition that was a choice not a "happening to you" situation. If you are doubting or questioning things I urge you to do this. In your mind, go back to the moment when you made the decision you made. Remember that in that moment you were sure about this choice and wanted it. Trust the 'past you' from that moment and the choice you made.
You are now one step closer to what you truly want.